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Government and Politics

Larger Atlas V scheduled for Vandenberg launch this Thursday

Atlas_V_541_NASA.jpg
NASA
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An Atlas V rocket—unlike any other launched on the West Coast—is scheduled for lift-off this Thursday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

It's called an Atlas V 541, and it's the same type of rocket used to launch the Mars rover Curiosity back in 2011.

The rocket is larger than the most recent Atlas V to launch at Vandenberg because it has booster rockets.

Thursday's mission, named NROL-35, is in cooperation with the National Reconnaissance Office and is highly secretive.

Weather permitting, and a storm is expected to hit the Central Coast Thursday afternoon, is set for sometime between 6 and 8 p.m.

The 4th Space Launch Squadron is in charge of mission assurance and safety for this launch operation.

"A launch like this takes teamwork and dedication," said Lt. Col. James Bodnar, the squadron's commander. "Our mission assurance technicians and engineers have worked hand-in-hand with United Launch Alliance going over critical procedures and tasks to ensure this launch is a safe and successful one."